This is the second edition of movmi’s Partner Spotlight interview series. We truly believe that cultivating partnerships is the key to successful shared mobility. Today we have over 60 partners and this series will give you insights into the exceptional innovation happening across our network. This month, movmi’s Venkatesh Gopal chats with Alexander Gmelin from INVERS – the inventor of automated carsharing – an independent tech company dedicated solely to innovating for the shared mobility space. Their mission is to make the global use of shared vehicles more convenient and affordable than ownership, by empowering shared mobility operators worldwide with their technology.
Watch the full interview below! Keep reading for a brief summary of our discussion with Alexander Gmelin from INVERS. Check out more of our #PartnerSpotlight series here.
PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: INTERVIEW WITH ALEXANDER GMELIN, CPO AT INVERS
PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: INTERVIEW WITH INVERS
Chief Product Officer – INVERS
As CPO of INVERS, Alexander Gmelin is a member of the management board and responsible for product development. After several years in various positions within the company, most recently as Head of Market Management, the graduate engineer has overseen the product and marketing departments since August 2019. Before joining INVERS, Alexander Gmelin worked as Product and Fleet Manager at car2go (now ShareNow) and in vehicle development in the field of hybrid and electric mobility at Daimler AG.
INTERVIEW WITH ALEXANDER GMELIN
What kind of solutions does INVERS offer?
INVERS is one of the leading mobility tech companies in vehicle sharing and probably one of the most experienced, as we have been around right from the start. Our founder and CTO, Uwe Latsch, actually invented the technology to automate vehicle sharing 28 years ago. Today, we provide a universal digital fleet which is a representation of the physical vehicles for developers to make use of and to build their services on top. We do this in a standardized manner: it doesn’t matter if the vehicle is already equipped with embedded telematics from the manufacturer or with our own telematics, the INVERS CloudBoxx. Our focus is to provide developers with the APIs as the interface to interact with this digital fleet easily; we are known in the market for very good documentation of our APIs. Based on this, our customers around the globe offer numerous modes of travel, including cars, mopeds, scooters, e-bikes etc. Some of our clients include TIER, Bounce, ShareNow and many more.
What aspect of operations does INVERS help solve?
The main two aspects we bring to the table are reliability and flexibility. Shared mobility is a complex business and there are many aspects to consider. It’s a combination of both a digital and physical business. Especially in today’s digital world, it is important that digital applications work reliably, as people are less and less forgiving. As a result, reliability is needed right from the start and even more importantly, when you scale. Reliable technology is something that we have mastered throughout our many years of experience, and it is something we are known for. We make sure the digital and physical fleet stay in sync. That gives our clients the freedom to really focus on great user experience and operations.
As shared mobility is a really dynamic business, flexibility is also very important. With different form factors popping up and manufacturers bringing new vehicles to the market, operators need the flexibility to pick and choose whatever vehicle they need in order to grow their business. With our products, operators benefit from the most flexible tech stack, which plays into very efficient operations and ultimately, high vehicle utilization, which is one of the most important aspects of shared mobility.
From your experience what should be the priority for operators at the launch phase? Will or should these priorities change over time?
The launch phase and the growth phase are quite different. In the launch phase, it’s about moving fast, validating your business assumptions to see what sticks, and experimenting to see how you can improve your business. During the launch phase, it’s really important, through trial and error, to understand the local mobility culture. Just because one model works in one city, doesn’t mean it will work in another as well.
In the growth phase, now that you have a better grasp on understanding the local mobility culture, you can start to really scale your operations, make them more efficient, and focus on differentiation. Once you’ve gotten to this point, something that you really want to consider is what you will build in-house and what you want to buy. You need to think about the mission critical basics and if they are working reliably. Our technology gives operators the peace of mind to allow them to focus their attention on differentiating themselves from other services.
The feedback we get from our customers is that things that were manageable during the launch phase become overwhelming during the growth phase. Some of our customers didn’t initially start with us, but over time they decided that they needed something that also works at scale and is reliable, and so they came to us and decided to go with our tech stack.
What are some of the key problems that operators face? And how do you help solve these?
In the end, it is usually underestimating the complexity of shared mobility services. One of the most important decisions operators need to make is to decide what part of the operations they want to keep in-house that will help to drive and differentiate their services, but also what tech infrastructure they want to use that will actually work.
It’s such a dynamic market and it’s the entrepreneurs that shape this market. INVERS wants to enable them, help them realize their ideas, and push the market forward with their innovative approaches. INVERS works with both small and large customers. At the launch phase, if you have a reliable and flexible tech stack, like the one we offer, it will allow you to work through a trial-and-error phase to help you learn fast and then scale and grow fast as well.
Could you talk a little bit more about the multimodal support INVERS offers?
Our technology is agnostic. We support any business model (it could be sharing, subscription, rental, etc.) and also different vehicle types as well. For us, it does not matter whether the vehicles have built-in telematics and we connect them through our aggregation solution CloudConnect, or we connect it through our telematics solution CloudBoxx and make it all available through one API as a single interface.
When it comes to modes, the more options, the better. If you have the right type of mode for your mobility need, it will be better than the private car. In fact, the private car is usually never the right mode option. For example, when you go into town, you spend most of your time circling for a parking spot because the vehicle is too big. Then, if you go on vacation, it’s usually too small. This is the strength of shared mobility – being able to pick the right mode for your needs in that moment. This will drive adoption, and this flexibility in choosing the right mode is what INVERS supports with our technology.
We are also seeing a lot of different business models like sharing, subscription and rental fuse into each other. For example, one of our customers in Denmark, GoMore, offers a subscription service in addition to a peer-to-peer service. So when people don’t need their car, they can rent it out on their marketplace, lowering their monthly costs. The potential of shared mobility isn’t yet fully tapped into yet, there are still more and more ideas coming up. It is very exciting.
What trends are you seeing emerge? What is next for shared mobility?
I think shared mobility is really a great way to drive electrification of mobility in cities. The city is the perfect use case: with the current traffic situation, it is often a stop and go journey. From a sustainability perspective, electric vehicles are the best solution here, as electrification and multimodality are the future. The ability to access a different mode depending on your need and to reduce emissions are trends that we see from our customers across the globe.
Another trend I see is having battery standards. More and more moped manufacturers are collaborating on creating battery standards, which could be a game-charger for user-based swapping within shared mobility in the future.
I also think networks of operators will be a trend in the future, where vehicles are shared not just between users, but also between operators. There could be a partnership between operators for different form factors and use cases. As we see MaaS services evolve, we might see this happening too.
What’s next for INVERS?
More and more vehicles are coming equipped with embedded telematics, which is something that will definitely drive growth. This year, we launched our newest product CloudConnect, which makes these already connected vehicles available to developers via one developer-centric API and documentation. This will make it much easier for operators to make use of these vehicles in the shared mobility space. Stay tuned for more updates on new innovations we will be bringing to the market!
Choose the best vehicles and telematics that meet your need. Build your own sharing software or buy a turnkey solution from our integration partners. Connect and manage your fleet from one interface. All with the flexibility and independence to change anytime. Talk to an INVERS expert here.